How We Hire
The power of paying attention to detail
Natalie Ledbetter leads Shapeways’ talent acquisition efforts in New York. She tells Workable more about Shapeways and her role.
Shapeways is the leading 3D printing marketplace and community, empowering designers to bring amazing products to life. The company was founded in 2007 by Peter Weijmarshausen, our CEO, and is a spin-out of the lifestyle incubator of Royal Philips Electronics in the Netherlands.
His vision was to democratize 3D printing, making it more accessible and affordable for everyone.
The Shapeways business model is unique with several layers: we are a tech and e-commerce company, but ultimately a service provider and a manufacturer. We have a team of 56 people in Eindhoven and a team of 96 in New York — split between our headquarters and our manufacturing plant facility in Long Island City.
My reasons for joining Shapeways were very strategic as I could see the long-term applications for this technology and the impact it could have on product design, manufacturing and the global supply chain. I wanted to be part of a company that was at the beginning of revolutionizing something that I believed would change the world.
What are some of your biggest hiring challenges and how have you overcome them?
One of the unique challenges I face is finding manufacturing professionals who also fit our culture. This can be tough because NYC is not a traditional hub for manufacturing especially with high commercial rents and expensive labor costs. In order to overcome that, I advertise a lot of our jobs and relocate people from places like Seattle, Ohio, Texas and Michigan.
Then there is the supply and demand of engineers. It’s a big one to overcome especially when you’re competing with the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook.
My approach has been to target engineers whose experience looks like a fit for us and then approach each one in a very tailored way. I do a lot of research to understand their work, as well as their passion projects. I’m reading what they’re saying on Twitter and what open source projects they’re working on in StackExchange and Github. I’m looking at their blogs or books they’ve written, and anything else I can find out about them. I want to get to know them and tell them why I think they’d be a good fit for our organization and culture — and try to make a connection that way.
Although it may not lead to a job right away, my goal is to make sure every candidate has a good experience with me and a personal first impression of our organization. This type of outreach often leads to an introduction to someone else they know, or an eventual follow up when they’re ready to launch their job search. This is particularly important in an environment where there if far more demand than supply.
Obviously this takes more time and that might be frustrating but what it yields is relationships — which is what I believe is at the core of recruiting. I’m in a unique position to build real and long-term relationships and that rarely comes from dry, plug-in-the-name-of-the-candidate templates.
What do you use Workable for? How has it changed the way you do your hiring?
Workable has changed everything from a time-saving perspective. I use to use Google docs to manage nearly 600 engineers and over 400 other individuals whom I have met since I’ve been at Shapeways, which I had very little analytics on.
Being a recruiter who is passionate and highly sensitive to detail has made Workable an excellent fit for me. I can keep track of all my information in one place and easily share it. It saves me a lot of time managing my candidates and outreach.
I also love that it’s so simple to plug a candidate into Workable using their LinkedIn profile with just a few clicks. Bulk emails, the Gmail integration and tags have also been fantastic and huge time savers, allowing me to search, track and email candidates quickly.
I also now have data on everything — in terms of which advertising channels are working and which ones aren’t, and where my candidates are coming from. Overall, Workable has just been a massive time-saver.
Do you have any other tools that you recommend to others for hiring?
We don’t have a huge budget for tools, but we use some to help with our harder-to-fill engineering roles.
- Whitetruffle has been really great at increasing our flow of engineers. I import their candidates from WhiteTruffle into Workable by copying and pasting their LinkedIn profiles into my dashboard.
- Underdog.io are also great at vetting engineers for me. Love those guys! Their candidates thus far have been the exact caliber of product and development professionals that we look for.
Workable has changed everything from a time-saving perspective
Give us your top 3 tips on hiring you’d share with someone getting started?
First, recruiting is often about first impressions, so the goal is to be highly educated before you start reaching out to candidates. Meeting with your hiring team to get a true understanding of what the role is, and what the candidate profile’s non-negotiables are is crucial. It also falls on the recruiter to spend time learning the vernacular, doing research about the market, and getting an understanding of how the role fits into the team and organization as a whole.
Second, think about how you can tailor your outreach to candidates — especially when dealing with highly competitive roles like engineers. I truly believe in over-communicating with candidates and getting to know them. It’s not the quickest way to operate, but a genuine approach leads to more real relationships down the road.
The more people you know, the larger your candidate pool becomes. Ensuring that their experience with you is always friendly, warm and engaging is important in a world where bad recruiters are a dime a dozen. If you’re unresponsive, curt, or nasty — word will absolutely get out. Going the extra mile is 100% worth it.
Thirdly, it’s worth it to spend some time coaching your candidates, especially ones that are a great fit but don’t interview well. I really do believe interviewing is a skill. It’s something that takes a lot of practice to be good at, while not sounding too mechanical. I keep my interviews conversational so I can get a clearer picture of each person we bring in. If I find someone that I believe in but might not do well in an interview setting — I spend extra time helping them prepare.
Sure, it means a little bit of extra hand-holding to ensure that they can put their best foot forward, but I’ve seen people who are awesome candidates get passed on for not being stellar interviewees. As a recruiter/HR professional, your ultimate goal should be to help build culture and ensure the right people are brought on. To me, working with a candidate for an extra hour or two to make sure they’re showcasing their skills and personality is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I don’t get as much sleep as I want, but helping people find their dream jobs makes everything worth it.
If you’d like to work with Natalie and her team at Shapeways, they’re currently hiring for 21 roles between New York and the Netherlands. Find out more on their careers page, and connect with Natalie via LinkedIn or follow her at @ShapewaysTalent!
Workable is where an increasing number of bright companies go to solve their hiring puzzle. This is the latest in a series of posts where we talk to great companies about how they hire.